Martin Allen reflects on Barnet's 3-2 win over Hartlepool United...Martin Allen described Shaun Batt’s dramatic winner against Hartlepool United as “special” after watching the striker net his first goal in Barnet colours to seal a 3-2 win.
Efforts from Nathan Thomas and Padraig Amond either side of half time looked to have given Pools the points at The Hive.
However, the game hinged on referee Nicholas Kinseley’s decision to dismiss United defender Liam Donnelly for bringing down John Akinde inside the penalty area midway through the second half.
Akinde dispatched the penalty with ease to get Barnet back into the game. Luke Gambin then curled a free-kick past everyone and into the net to make it 2-2 with 13 minutes remaining.
The comeback was complete three minutes later when Batt finished off a cross from Curtis Weston – his first competitive strike for the club.
Speaking afterwards, Allen praised the impact of the former Millwall and Leyton Orient forward.
“You couldn’t meet a nicer bloke,” Allen said. “He trains hard and well, has a good attitude and is great with all the other players when he’s not playing.
“He’s a good bloke and the injuries he’s had have been really stressful for him – and me because I signed him.
“But when he comes on as a sub he really does do damage. To see him score that goal, the happiness of the supporters and the happiness of the player was really special to me – I liked that.”
And Allen felt it was the impact of his substitutes – Batt, Weston and Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro – which helped turn the game in Barnet’s favour following what had been an even first 55 minutes.
“We all know we’ve got some very strong, pacey and powerful players on the bench and they do make a difference,” explained the Bees head coach.
“On Tuesday at Newport County, Shaun and Akpo came on. Last week at Wycombe Akpo came on and was brilliant.
“We know we’ve got those players to come on so we stayed nice and calm at half time and didn’t panic.
“We made some adjustments to our shape and pressed them a little bit higher. Then the breaks came.
“In the first half we had three good chances. Although they had a lot of possession in their own half, I’m not sure we were as bad as 2-0 down suggested.”
The win means Barnet have picked up seven points in a week to climb to 14th after 15 games.
It was only a fortnight ago that the Bees were humbled 4-1 at home to Exeter City and the performances since have, understandably, delighted Allen.
“Seven from nine is good and we were unfortunate to concede that goal in the last minute at Newport County when we had further chances to go ahead,” he admitted. “But the spirit and character is key.
“We had some good young players come in as well. The senior players have responded tremendously well and all that bodes well when you’ve got that character and desire within you group.
“It’s a good bounce-back from the Exeter City game where every supporter – including myself – went home naffed off.
“It was a brilliant effort by all our supporters today to really get behind the team and give them their full backing. And that is massive.
“We’ve had tremendous backing here with the championship-winning team two seasons ago and the team last season. Today I thought that atmosphere was similar to the old days at Underhill which I used to love.”